Diversity and Blogs

Several weeks ago I started actively searching for blogs written by women and minorities to help bring more diversity to the BlueNC blogosphere. This weekend Chris Bowers at MyDD wrote a couple of posts picking up on the diversity and blogs issue. This isn't new for Chris, but I'm glad to see him shed some light on the issue again.

One of the tactics I had planned to use to bring a greater variety of voices to BlueNC was to simply quote and link to blogs written by a diverse group of writers when I was actually writing my own blog posts. If I was writing about free trade, I make an effort to find what other bloggers have to say and I look beyond MyDD, Atrios, DKos and FireDogLake. This has been a lot tougher than you might think.

I decided the quick way to see what I could find in the blogosphere was to do a Google search within blogs. I'm researching a piece on free trade. I couldn't find anything that was obviously written by a woman or minority. (durned anonymity!) I also had trouble finding much that wasn't written by news professionals on their own blogs when I searched the state earned income tax credit. Obviously, the corporate news organizations show up higher on search engines and so do their blogs.

I'm not giving up. I plan to continue searching out a wide variety of blogs when time permits, however I would like for time to permit it more often.

Chris Bowers has this to say:

The thing is that there are many different ways for people to engage in civic affairs, in politics, in media, and in the online world. Even thought the blogosphere is an incredibly important phenomenon to the progressive and political world, the fact is that it is still only one way to engage in civic affairs, in politics, in media and in the online world. The progressive blogosphere is not inherently good to the point where everyone needs to be involved in it. It is not the equivalent of education or voting. There really is no need to, for example, make sure that local community activists working on housing issues are maintaining well read and frequently updated blogs documenting their activities. There are other ways for such activists to get their message out, and there are other ways for those who are part of the progressive, political blogosphere to communicate with activists of that nature. Blogging is one way to make that connection, but it is not necessary that blogging be the way that connection is made. There are other avenues. Not everyone has to blog.

I agree that not everyone has to blog. That hasn't been the point of our outreach here at BlueNC, especially through BlueNC Women on Wednesdays. My/Our purpose has been to make sure that those already in the blogosphere or curious about it and making those first tentative steps toward becoming active, feel welcome and encouraged by the community without regard to gender or skin color.

One of the things that I tend to do is lump blogging and online activism together. Not all bloggers are activists. Some bloggers don't do much beyond their blogging. There's nothing wrong with that, but I know here at BlueNC we've all made an effort to be active in politics outside of BlueNC. What applies here might not apply to other blog communities.

I understand what Chris is trying to say. He doesn't want people to make the liberal political blogosphere out to be more important than it is. It isn't so great and powerful that everyone should feel like they have to participate.

I get that, but I don't think that's the focus of many who discuss the gender/ethnic/racial makeup of the political blogosphere. Blogging is still a relatively new concept. I think it will grow in importance. When it does, wouldn't it be nice if efforts to promote diversity were already well under way instead of waiting until it is a major problem?

Chris agrees:

Without question, the progressive, political blogosphere should not unfairly exclude anyone who participates within it. Also, without question, efforts should be made to guarantee that those who wish to participate in the progressive, political blogosphere can do so. Further, it is absolutely necessary to the progressive movement that the different communities within that movement are talking with each other, learning about each other, and working together. However, none of this means that every single person involved in progressive politics needs to participate in the blogosphere.

I've not heard anyone promote the idea that everyone needs to blog, so not sure where Chris is coming from on this. I feel if certain voices aren't being heard, we have a responsibility to help amplify them. It can be as simple as quoting someone in a post after hearing them speak at a rally or meeting. It can be as simple as inviting someone to read our site and encouraging them to comment.

I don't feel I have a responsibility to turn everyone into a blogger, but I do feel a certain amount of responsibility to make sure the way is paved for voices to be heard. I know that many of you share that sense of responsibility and have already worked hard bringing new readers and commenters to BlueNC. Thank you.


You said somethig above that is actually so important, but in

a way that you probably weren't thinking about when you wrote:

... but I do feel a certain amount of responsibility to make sure the way is paved for voices to be heard.

If you, and others who write here, knew how often you've moved me to take action with my elected reps and others, you would realize that you paved the way to make it possible for my voice to be heard...by those who can do something about our problems.

I don't write much here because my interests are more aligned with national issues. But I read and occasionally comment...and you and many others cause me to think and evaluate more clearly. Then I take action...not by writing here but by writing Congress, or calling.

Anyway... you do much good.

By the way, here is one of the best articles I've read on Free Trade, and I can personally state that the author of the book cited is a very smart person. Here's the link: Free Trade

SE NC Dems

Stan Bozarth

Thank you Stan

You're right. I hadn't thought of it that way. It sure makes me smile.

Thanks for the link too. I've been doing a lot of reading on free trade. I'm always looking for more.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Different bloggers, different issues

This post sounds a little like the "where are the women bloggers?" conversation that goes around the blogosphere every 6 months or so. Part of the issue is that minority bloggers are often writing about different issues than middle-class white men (and women), or writing about the same issues from a different perspective.

So it seems to me the emphasis in your post is wrong, and a bit patronizing -- rather than start with your own agenda on what issues deserve your attention and then googling for minority voices to shore up your opinion on those issues, work to read more minority blogs regularly and let your participation in their online communities form the blogging you do yourself.

(I don't mean by this to say you specifically or BlueNC generally is notoriously bad about this or anything -- I've only been reading for a couple of months, and obviously you're going forward in good faith. Thinking about these issues is laudable. But I think the approach I sketch out above will bear more fruit -- the mainstream left tends to ignore women's and minority issues, Kos being particularly bad about this himself, and not putting minority voices, talking about their own issues, at the center of progressive activism is a big part of the problem.)

Thank you for your post

The problem with your suggestion is that I approach this whole blogging thing as a writer. Some of what I write is fairly extensively researched. I don't search for posts from minorities/women to back up what I'm saying. I search for posts from others (anyone) to show what they are saying on the issue - whether it backs me up or not. The whole idea behind searching for minority/women's voices is simply to reach out instead of requiring that they come to us.

I don't physically have the time to get involved in other blogging communities. If that is what is required, then this will simply be something I have to let go.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I had the same reaction to FrChris

Of all the balls we're juggling, the one that requires adding a bunch more random reading to search out diversity is one I'm willing to drop like a hot potato.

What you're doing is fabulous and effective and inspiring. If someone else wants to do what Fr is saying (like Fr, for example), well that's cool.

Just saying.

Yes but FrChris does have a point

and I'm not meaning to be patronizing at all.

It is simply a function of the day not having enough hours. I also probably wasn't very clear about why I search their blogs for quotes on the topics I'm researching. I do see what he/she is saying, but agree with you that most of us already have too many balls in the air.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Ummmm....I don't believe I'da said "patronizing"

because NOTHING could be further from the truth when referring to SD. In fact, I could get quite upset about that sort of comment. SD is too fine a person to stick a pin in your somewhat inflated opinion of your own thinking. Several of us are not that fine...and I'm one of them.

Given you're new....a married Catholic Priest...and quite young...I'll give you a "by" on this one and just say "Bless your heart!" (If you're Southern, you get it).

SE NC Dems

Stan Bozarth

Stan, you make me smile

I am Southern. I get it. (PS - I do have pins and...well....I do know how to use them. heh heh)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

"Patronizing" is a loaded

"Patronizing" is a loaded word I probably shouldn't have used. :-) It might make what I'm trying to say clearer to point out that someone can be patronizing or condescending with the very best of intentions and without the slightest desire to hurt or offend.

I'm sure most readers of the site, being progressives, would agree that the more enfranchised members of society have privileges that blind us to perspectives we need to listen to -- even when we're trying consciously to pay attention to their concerns. (And the Kos mention was intended to draw a contrast to what I've seen as the far better environment on this site, though I know it's connected in some way to dKos. I've not yet seen anyone use language like "the sanctimonious women's studies set" on here. :-)

Anyhow, I understand and sympathize with the time concerns. I don't want to suggest that you're doing harm by focusing on this community. But I think the solution to the problem discussed in the original post is really one of cultural competencies -- understanding that bloggers in minority communities and the feminist community may express themselves differently, blog in different venues (one thing that comes up frequently in the "where are the women bloggers?" discussions is that many women write on LiveJournal, which many A-listers dismiss out of hand as a site for angsty teenagers), and may even develop a position on something like free trade over the course of dozens of posts that deal with other issues -- like working mothers in the third world or the effects of globalization on women. The very *way* that straight, white middle-class men and women -- or people with some subset of those attributes -- group issues together is informed by our privilege. It takes reconfiguring the whole progressive movement to put minorities in the center to really start to address that. (Something many are working on but many are opposed to.)

The work is for all of us to do -- I didn't mean to suggest it's all The Southern Dem's responsibility just because he posted about it! :-)

For concrete recommendations, I highly recommend Feministe, Bitch, PhD, and Republic of T. The comments in all three are great, but just skimming the headlines each day turns up a number of great articles and links. blac(k)ademic no longer blogs, but her blogroll is worth checking out.

Thank you for the suggestions

What I would really like - and I'm sure some techy person is going to tell me this already exists - but what I would really like is a way to set up the list of blogs I've vetted and wish to search and have Google/search engine of choice search just those blogs. It would save me a tremendous amount of time.

I'm not trying to determine what other bloggers should write about, rather I'm trying to make sure I give equal time to the opinions not always found on the big boy blogs. Well, they could be same/similar opinions, just quoting a different voice for a change.

When I first started this the idea was to invite folks to BlueNC. Ha! If I don't have time to visit other blogs frequently, then why would other bloggers have time to get involved here? As long as they know their voices are welcome, I'll be satisfied....for now.

Thanks again for your comments.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Lucky you. It's windy and cool outside so I'm not out and about

and am therefore going to give your comment time it doesn't deserve.

Rather than apologizing for suggesting someone (you obviously don't know) is being patronizing, you procede to justify yourself with a lengthy explanation and broaden your gaffe by assuming / suggesting we "more enfranchised members of society have privileges that blind us to perspectives we need to listen to."

Condescension comes in many forms. Are you so blinded by your own self-importance that you fail to see you yourself are being patronizing?

You might want to rethink your approach.
SE NC Dems

Stan Bozarth

I think...

...you just proved the point.

NY Times Article: A Team Community Gains Strength From Its Weakened Coach

There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

I don't mean to justify

I don't mean to justify myself as somehow being above the fray on this at all -- I readily admit that I'm in a privileged place on many fronts, too (middle-class, white, male, clergy, professional, etc.) and as a result my perspective is severely limited. Even when I try to broaden that perspective, I'm prone to ignore stories that threaten my privilege.

If I was condescending to Southern Dem myself, I definitely apologize. My whole intent was really to highlight how privilege blinds anyone in situations where they are enfranchised and others are not (or less so), not to call Southern Dem out specifically. It's an issue of cultural competencies that affects the whole progressive movement.

It's comments like this...

which will certainly encourage an atmosphere where 'new' people are feel confident to express their views. And actually had you read the comment he rather than "suggesting someone (you obviously don't know) is being patronizing" did quite the opposite if you read the final part of his initial comment it reads:

I don't mean by this to say you specifically or BlueNC generally is notoriously bad about this or anything[/blockquote>

NOTE: Cleaned up tags by Anglico: strong . . . and blockquote

But FrChris suggested someone he didn't know

was being condescending. Are you saying that's OK? Is it because he's a man that it is OK for him to be condescending toward me or because he's a priest?

Stan was standing up for me and I appreciate it. FrChris and I had a polite exchange and I think we probably understand each other. He has come back to visit other threads, so obviously he's got thicker skin than you give him credit for having.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

At what point did I suggest he didn't have thick skin?

My point was that when someone sees comments suggesting that someone should count themselves lucky that they're being talked to, "Welcome" is not the first word that springs to mind whether you're from the south or not.

I guess if someone felt my arguement sounded condesending I would hope they feel free to express that and I would think about how my words could be taken by others.

Why so defensive? If someone calls you condesending and you know you're not, why not just laugh at them and move on. If someone called me conservative I would laugh at them, because I'm not.

I don't laugh at people who come here and mean well

I'm not being defensive. I just disagree with you.

You "scolded" Stan and said he was criticizing someone he didn't know for being "condscending". All I did was point out to you that the person he was saying that to had also accused someone he didn't know of being condescending - me. So, you jump on Stan for something FrChris was just as guilty of doing.

We actually are pretty welcoming here, but it is usually advisable to NOT have the first comment you ever make in a blog community one that criticizes a community regular for something that is a perceived wrong. Not good form - anywhere.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

"Lucky you" meant something very different

than your interpretation. Think about it.

I don't recall pledging to be welcoming to newcomers (7 minutes+ at the time), or anyone else, who make absurd statements about people I respect. I also know BS when I smell it. If FrChris had been reading here for several months, as he stated, it's dubious he would have referred to SD as "he" and FrChris would also know "patronizing" is not a word easily applied to most folks here, certainly not SD.

It's that simple.
SE NC Dems

Stan Bozarth

Chivalry lives indeed!

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Minority - check

Female - check

Progressive - er ... no.

But a very interesting and popular blog none the less:

LaShawn Barber's Corner

Sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree but she's always worth a read. I found her through a homeschool blog but it must have been an anomaly because that's not her typical topic.

Besides - it's always good to know what the competition is up to --

If I've already introduced her - forgive me. I'm old and it's early. ;)

I admire your dedication to this SD

Good on you for taking the time to seek out and highlight women's and minority's voices within the progressive blogosphere.

As a progressive Democrat, I believe it's important that we do reach out to those, whose voices are not always heard or whose voices are often dismissed because they do not meet the criteria of narrow confines of the white male construct of what is considered valuable or worthy.

Whether it be through blogging or in our every day lives, it's up to us to be a part of lifting every voice.

Thank you!

Gosh, I wish I'd said that!

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Fear of Blogging?

Timely article at Slate.com
Fear of Blogging:
Why women shouldn't apologize for being afraid of threats on the Web.

I have received some very ugly emails

None threatening physical violence or even mentioning my children or family. Once that line is crossed I will call the authorities, but I would hope I wouldn't let it scare me away.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Maybe "they" think I'm a woman?

Like, SD, I get ugly emails regularly. Two over the past year have threatened physical violence.

We must be doing something right.

People can be weird

I once found a cat wandering on a highway entrance ramp and took care of it for a week before locating the owner after notifying SPCA and putting an ad in the paper. It got a little weird over the phone so he called the cops and claimed his cat was stolen. I asked for an officer to be present when I dropped off the cat and even then he threatened to beat the s**t out of me. People can be weird (that includes me).

Speaking for the ladies...

...well, okay, speaking just for myself...

I am a woman. I came here at Anglico's urging (*wave*), and have been reading. A lot. A hell of a lot. And here's my two bits...

I've mostly kept up with national politics. Ever since the farce of an "election" back in 2000, when the Supreme Court stepped in and decided who would be king...er, president, I've watched the Bush administration like a hawk. And I've ranted about them regularly, to friends, to family, to the occasional stranger. (On a side note, I've been feeling a whole lot of vindication lately as I've gotten to watch their empire crumble, but that's another story.) But I hadn't really paid much attention to local politics, apart from when election time rolled around, when I'd do my research and figure out who to vote for. I've learned a lot from reading everyone's blogs here, and like Stan, it's inspired me to get more involved on a local level. I don't post here because I don't feel as though I've developed the chops to roll with you guys (and gals) just yet, but when I do, you can bet I'll be making myself heard. =D

In the meantime, between BlueNC and Countdown with Keith Olbermann, I'm a happy girl.

learn by doing

to you, but more to the other lurkers, you learn how to blog by jumping right in and lending your voice.

ps- hello and welcome.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Liddy 44 Brad 33

"Keep the Faith"

Hehe....glad you posted

Something tells me you could handle your own, noooo problem.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


can handle ANYTHING, trust me.

I've never met her, but I've known her through a series of little blogging communities and was thrilled when she finally registered here.

Just don't piss her off.


what, me?

okay, maybe i do tend to swear...sometimes...a little...
and maybe it's usually sparked by social or political issues...
but i have a feeling i'm in good company.

You're in great company, sweetie pie

except for those occasional visits from right-wing reactionaries who disapprove of lively public discourse. Other than that, BlueNC rocks . . . and we're thrilled to see you out and about!


and what a lovely introduction, too :-) Go girl!

SE NC Dems

Stan Bozarth

Welcome Bluesteph

Your comments are always welcomed here. Don't worry about rolling, everyone here has your back! Keep coming back, we need more women posting. Thanks A for inviting her!

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

oh yeah, i'm no stranger to

oh yeah, i'm no stranger to blogging itself...i've had a grand total of 5 so far, starting with livejournal back in 2001 and most recently here. it's just that, when everyone else is writing intelligent, well-thought (or even not-so-well-thought but still intelligent) posts, i don't want to be the lone crazy going "LAWL NEOCONS R TARDS, ELIZABETH DOLE'S UR MOM"

(not that i'd do that anyway, but still...some of you folk are damn smooth. wanna know my material better before i start representing.)

thanks for the welcome!!

I think I like your way with words

this could get quite entertaining!

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

So glad you're here, Blue Steph!

Don't worry about letting the crazy out once in a while. We all have our "Oh yeah, well, :PPPPPPPP!!!!!" moments. (Well, some of us do, anyhow. )
The Den
My darling girl, when will you understand that 'normal' isn't necessarily a virtue. It rather denotes a lack of courage." - Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic